‘A Lesson in Art and Life – The Colourful World of Cedric Morris and Arthur Lett-Haines’ – an illustrated talk with arts and design journalist Hugh St Clair.
Published in June this year, this long overdue biography focuses on the hugely influential couple who were at the centre of the Modern British art scene: Cedric Morris (1889-1982) and Arthur Lett-Haines (1894-1978) and explores their lives where self-expression through artistic endeavour and a freedom to fulfil it was a sacrosanct principle.
Both men studied in Paris in the 1920s where they absorbed the work of the French Post Impressionists, Cubists and Surrealists. Later in London, Morris became a sought-after painter of flowers, birds and landscapes. Lett-Haines was hailed as Britain’s first Surrealist. The couple were the centre of the creative and Bohemian world in London and Paris. Morris was given an exhibition of his portraits by Peggy Guggenheim in London.
In 1930s they founded the East Anglian School of Painting and Drawing in Suffolk where Lucian Freud and Maggi Hambling found their ambition and focus. The atmosphere at the school was described as ‘robust and coarse, exquisite and sensitive all at once, also faintly dangerous.’ Visitors included Vita Sackville West, Francis Bacon and Benjamin Britten.Lett-Haines was a superb cook who swapped recipes with Elizabeth David. Cedric Morris became an award-winning plantsman, iris and poppy propagator. He was an acknowledged influence on Beth Chatto amongst others.
Hugh St. Clair is an experienced arts and design journalist with reviews and features published in numerous British and international magazines and newspapers from House and Garden and Country Life to The Art Newspaper and Bonhams auction house magazine. He has edited and written four books on paintings including three editions of Miller’s Pictures Price Guide and Miller’s Buying Affordable Art.
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